such a change in attitude from that night when he denied Jesus, and also to endure the flogging meted out by the rulers. (Acts 5:40-42) Prior to this arrest Peter had been inspired to expose the hypocrisy of Ananias and Sapphira and pronounce God’s judgment upon them.—Acts 5:1-11.
Not long after the martyrdom of Stephen, when Philip (the evangelist) had aided and baptized a number of believers in Samaria, Peter and John traveled there to enable these believers to receive the holy spirit. Then the two apostles “went declaring the good news” to many Samaritan villages on their return to Jerusalem. (Acts 8:5-25) Peter evidently went out again on a mission during which, at Lydda, he healed Aeneas, paralyzed for eight years, and resurrected the woman Dorcas of Joppa. (Acts 9:32-43) From Joppa, Peter was guided to use the second ‘key of the kingdom,’ traveling to Caesarea to preach to Cornelius and his relatives and friends, resulting in their becoming the first uncircumcised Gentile believers to receive the holy spirit as Kingdom heirs. Upon his return to Jerusalem, Peter had to face opposers of this action but gained their ‘acquiescence’ by presenting the evidence that he had acted at heaven’s direction.—Acts 10:1–11:18; compare Matthew 16:19.
It was evidently about this same year (36 C.E.) that Paul made his first visit to Jerusalem as a Christian convert and apostle. He went to “visit Cephas [Peter],” spending fifteen days with him, seeing also James (the half brother of Jesus) but none of the other original apostles.—Gal. 1:18, 19; see APOSTLE (Congregational apostleships).
According to available evidence, it was in 44 C.E. that Herod Agrippa I executed the apostle James and, finding this pleased the Jewish leaders, next arrested Peter. (Acts 12:1-4) ‘Intense prayer’ was carried on by the congregation for Peter, and Jehovah’s angel freed him from prison (and probable death). After relating his miraculous release to those at John Mark’s home, Peter asked that a report be made to “James and the brothers,” and then Peter “journeyed to another place.”—Acts 12:5-17; compare John 7:1; 11:53, 54.
He next appears in the Acts account at the assembly of “apostles and the older men” held in Jerusalem to consider the issue of circumcision for Gentile converts, likely in the year 49 C.E. After considerable disputing had gone on, Peter rose and gave testimony as to God’s dealings with Gentile believers. That “the entire multitude became silent” gives evidence of the strength of his argument and, likely, also of the respect in which he was held. Peter, like Paul and Barnabas whose testimony followed his, was in effect on the ‘witness stand’ before the assembly. Perhaps because of this, Peter, though arguing against imposing a burdensome “yoke” on the Gentile Christians, did not present the final resolution for the assembly’s adoption, this being offered by James. (Acts 15:1-29) Nonetheless, Paul at that time speaks of Peter along with James and John as “outstanding men,” “the ones who seemed to be pillars” in the congregation.—Gal. 2:1, 2, 6-9.
From the record as a whole it is evident that Peter, while certainly very prominent and respected, exercised no primacy over the apostles in the sense of, or on the basis of, appointed rank or office. Thus, when Philip’s work in Samaria proved fruitful, the account states that the apostles, apparently acting as a body, “dispatched Peter and John” on the mission to Samaria. (Acts 8:14) Peter did not remain permanently at Jerusalem as though his presence were essential for the proper government of the Christian congregation. (Acts 8:25; 9:32; 12:17; see also OLDER MAN; OVERSEER.) He was active in Antioch, Syria, at the same time that Paul was there, and Paul once found it necessary to reprove Peter (Cephas) “face to face . . . before them all” because of Peter’s being ashamed to eat and similarly associate with Gentile Christians due to the presence of certain Jewish Christians who had come from James in Jerusalem.—Gal. 2:11-14.
Further information on the question of Peter’s position in the Christian congregation is provided under ROCK-MASS. The view that Peter was in Rome and headed the congregation there has only dubious tradition for its support and does not harmonize well with the Scriptural indications. On this point, and with regard to Peter’s residing in Babylon and its being the site from which he wrote his two letters, see PETER, LETTERS OF.
PETER, LETTERS OF
Two inspired letters of the Christian Greek Scriptures composed by the apostle Peter, who identifies himself as the writer in the opening words of each letter. (1 Pet. 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:1; compare 2 Peter 3:1.) Additional internal evidence unmistakably points to Peter as the writer. He speaks of himself as an eyewitness of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ, a privilege shared only by Peter, James and John. (2 Pet. 1:16-18; Matt. 17:1-9) And, as evident from John 21:18, 19, Peter alone could have said: “The putting off of my tabernacle is soon to be, just as also our Lord Jesus Christ signified to me.” (2 Pet. 1:14) The difference in style between the two letters may be attributed to the fact that Peter used Silvanus (Silas) for writing the first letter but apparently did not do so when writing his second letter. (1 Pet. 5:12) Both were general letters, evidently directed to Jewish and non-Jewish Christians. The first letter is specifically addressed to those in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, regions of Asia Minor.—1 Pet. 1:1; 2:10; 2 Pet. 1:1; 3:1; compare Acts 2:5, 9, 10.
The letters of Peter agree fully with other Bible books in stressing right conduct and its rewards and also in quoting from them as the authoritative Word of God. Quotations are made from Genesis (18:12; 1 Pet. 3:6), Exodus (19:5, 6; 1 Pet. 2:9), Leviticus (11:44; 1 Pet. 1:16), Psalms (34:12-16; 118:22; 1 Pet. 3:10-12; 2:7), Proverbs (11:31 [LXX]; 26:11; 1 Pet. 4:18; 2 Pet. 2:22) and Isaiah (8:14; 28:16; 40:6-8; 53:5; 1 Pet. 2:8; 2:6; 1:24, 25; 2:24). Scriptural prophecy is shown to be the product of God’s spirit. (2 Pet. 1:20, 21; compare 2 Timothy 3:16.) God’s promise concerning new heavens and a new earth is repeated. (2 Pet. 3:13; Isa. 65:17; 66:22; Rev. 21:1) The parallels between 2 Peter (2:4-18; 3:3) and Jude (5-13, 17, 18) evidently indicate that the disciple Jude accepted Peter’s second letter as inspired. Noteworthy, too, is the fact that the letters of the apostle Paul are classified by Peter with “the rest of the Scriptures.”—2 Pet. 3:15, 16.
TIME OF WRITING
From the tone of the letters it appears that they were written prior to the outbreak of Nero’s persecution in 64 C.E. The fact that Mark was with Peter would seem to place the time of composition of the first letter between 62 and 64 C.E. (1 Pet. 5:13) Earlier, during the apostle Paul’s first imprisonment at Rome (c. 60-61 C.E.), Mark was there, and when Paul was imprisoned for a second time at Rome (c. 65 C.E.) he requested that Timothy and Mark join him. (Col. 4:10; 2 Tim. 4:11) Likely Peter wrote his second letter not long after his first, or about 64 C.E.
WRITTEN FROM BABYLON
According to Peter’s own testimony, he composed his first letter while at Babylon. (1 Pet. 5:13) Possibly also from there he wrote his second letter. Available evidence clearly shows that “Babylon” refers to the city on the Euphrates and not to Rome, as some have claimed. Having been entrusted with ‘the good news for those who are circumcised,’ Peter could be expected to serve in a center of Judaism, such as Babylon. (Gal. 2:8, 9) Since Peter wrote to “the temporary residents scattered about in [literal] Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1 Pet. 1:1), it logically follows that the source of the letter,